How much is one year of college education worth? Divide that number (whatever it may be) by the fact that college athletes don’t get nearly as much value from their degrees as regular students (you saw that UNC “paper” on Rosa Parks, right?) and you’ll get just a fraction of what Emmanuel Mudiay is going to make by playing in China next year rather than attending college.
Mudiay, a 19-year-old high school star who had eligibility issues at SMU and may have had to sit out a year, instead went and signed a one year, $1.2 million deal with Guangdong of the China Basketball Association. It’s the richest overseas contract ever for a high school player. Have fun at LSU, Ben Simmons! Enjoy that beautiful Syracuse weather, Malachi Richardson. Mudiay, who right now is projected as a top-five pick in 2015, will be overseas making bank. He’s also insuring himself against injury, just in case.
The going abroad route is the road less traveled — the guy everyone thinks of is Brandon Jennings, who played in Italy and has had a decent, but not stellar, NBA career so far. Jeremy Tyler (who? Yeah, exactly) is another example. The CBA is also a risk, as it’s markedly less competitive than the European leagues.
But with such a small sample size, it’s impossible to say whether Mudiay — a 6’5 guard who probably would have been a lottery pick this year too — is stunting his development by going to China. Plenty of big-name, top-five players went to college for year or two or three and left the NBA in disgrace soon after. Going to a good school or playing for a good coach doesn’t guarantee anything. It’s probably more about the player than the program.
Mudiay isn’t a shining example of the viability of going abroad rather than to college, due to his eligibility issues. He attended Prime Prep, the school founded by Deion Sanders that’s getting its charter revoked because it barely qualifies (in fact, it does not qualify) as a school. Now, he’ll have to pay for that mistake by… making over a million dollars. I’m sure he’s bummed out.
A lot is riding on Mudiay’s success overseas. If he plays well in the CBA, gets taken in the lottery next year and proves himself to be a quality player (while other top-five picks who went to college like Anthony Bennett, Hasheem Thabeet and Marvin Williams languish on the wrong side of history), it could open the floodgates for other prospects to do the same. Enough pro-level talent is wasting time pretending to go to classes in Kansas and Arizona — let them go make the money they deserve and then jump to the top-tier like everyone else.
Good luck, Mudiay. The future of college athletics is sort of riding on you, maybe.
Photo via Getty